Forty-five Texas school superintendents have been quietly investigated and disciplined since 2012, an investigation by the Texas Monitor and Real Clear Investigations has uncovered.
Superintendents are the unelected administrators of independent school districts, appointed by elected school board members.
These superintendents were sanctioned for offenses ranging from embezzlement to sexual misconduct, often under secretive circumstances meant to avoid electoral fallout for school board members.
School administrators, a group that includes superintendents, are represented by the Texas Association of School Administrators. TASA has lobbied for less accountability from the Texas Education Administration for many legislative sessions. Their most recent effort was to weaken SB 7, a bill that passed in the most recent legislative session, and created stronger penalties for sexual misconduct by school officials.
Stronger transparency measures, TASA lobbyists say, could lead to an “open season on educators.”
School boards are institutionally discouraged from addressing superintendent misconduct aggressively, due to a pervasive notion in the broader school system that it can damage school boards’ abilities to recruit top-quality superintendents.
Top-level administrators are also tied into complex long-term contracts with school boards that make firing them difficult. This is unlike most private employees in Texas who are retained at-will, and can be fired at any time for unsatisfactory performance or misconduct.
Parents should demand more accountability and transparency from the school board members they elect. Superintendents exist to serve students and teachers; as soon as they fail to carry out that role, they should be removed from office swiftly.